Among the best in the world on winter operations

The Avinor-owned main airport runs a formidable winter operation. Since starting to record annual snowfall in 1957, precipitation has varied between approx. 100 and 300 millimetres. This corresponds to one to three metres of snow during winter. The amount of snow is by no means exceptional in a country such as Norway, but viewed in the light of the traffic volume it is nevertheless demanding to keep traffic flowing without major delays.
Avinor2Norway has for the past six years been doing extensive research to get a better understanding of the complex mechanisms involved in measuring and predicting runway friction level. The main goal has been to find other ways than using the traditional friction measuring equipment. This work has resulted in the Integrated Runway Information System (IRIS). The system presents weather and runway information in a structured and adapted manner for Avinor's ground staff at the airport. The system is a support tool for estimating runway friction and gives in addtion warnings when weather conditions are changing and may cause slippery runways.

"Are there areas related to winter operations where we can claim to be world leaders?"

"Yes, Norway was the first country in the world to adopt the Automatic Notification and Reporting of Runway Conditions (AVRB) reporting tool, which transmits runway reports directly from the runway to the tower, pilots and other interested parties. We also believe that the training program and the R&D work is world class" Bugge says.

Runway reports (SNOWTAM) for all airports in Norway are available at the websitewww.ippc.noonly seconds after the report has been sent from the runway.
Avinor1Bråtebæk and his associates have been visited by delegations from England, China and many other countries that have come to learn about winter operations. Bråtebæk is also a member of a winter operations group that meets regularly to exchange experiences.

Have the experience and the equipment Bråtebæk points to two things that are decisive for stable operations during the winter: Expertise based on experience and the right equipment.

We have 12 years of winter operations behind us, and we quickly learnt that keeping an airport open all year is costly and we have had to take this into account, he says.

(Pictured: Håvard Haugsbø is in full control of the sweeper)
Since opening in 1998, Oslo Airport Gardermoen has only closed twice due to snow most recently in 2009, and then only for six hours.

In those cases there were extreme amounts of snow even by Norwegian standards, says director of airport services at Oslo Lufthavn Gardermoen, Henning Bråtebæk.

So-called freezing fog has also caused traffic disruptions, albeit infrequently.
More than 200 employees are involved in winter operations at Oslo Airport Gardermoen.

135 of them are OSL employees, some are seasonal workers, and we hire 60-80 external workers, says Bråtebæk.

A total of five teams work shifts, and the longest shifts can last up to twelve hours.
In recent years a total of NOK 45-50 million has been spent on developing winter operations expertise in the Avinor group. The main focus of the Winter Operations Training programme has been the training of ground staff to carry out their work of snow-clearing and runway inspection in a predictable and efficient manner.

"The focus areas in the training program range from meteorology and operative limitations to ploughing schedules and use of the equipment at the airport. In particular the employees are provided with thorough training in understanding friction, and how to act to achieve the best possible braking conditions on snow- and ice-covered runways through the use of various runway treatment products such as chemicals and sand," says project manager Hans Jørgen Bugge. 

He adds that the target is to keep the runways black even during winter in order to achieve the best possible braking conditions.


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